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Cline leads Ritchie County past Lincoln -- Liberty next

by Randall Jett

CORRESPONDENT

ELLENBORO -- Ritchie County's Josh Cline scattered three hits to lead the Rebels to a 9-3 victory over Lincoln in the opening round of the Class AA, Region 1, Section 3 baseball tournament.

Cline struck out nine and allowed just one earned run in his complete-game effort.

Ritchie County will host co-Big 10 champion Liberty at 5 p.m. today.

Lincoln (5-19) jumped to a 1-0, first-inning lead on a bases-loaded walk. Eric Miker led off with an infield single, and after two Ritchie County errors, Trevor McIntyre's walked forced in Miker.

Ritchie County (10-16) responded with two runs in the first. With two outs, Bobby Thornburgh walked, stole second and scored on Nathan Hayes' single. Hayes later scored on Eric Kerns' single to right.

Ritchie County added two runs each in the third and fourth innings for a 6-1 lead. Shaun McCullough slammed a two-run home run in the fourth.

"Our bats were dead," Lincoln coach Tom Hunter said. "We had opportunities, especially in the first inning. We had the bases loaded with one out, but could only score one run. We just didn't get hits when we needed hits."

After Lincoln scored two runs in the sixth on Josh Hamilton's single and a passed ball, Ritchie County provided the final margin in the bottom of the inning.

Thornburgh lined a two-run, bases-loaded single in the sixth.

"I'm pleased with the way Josh Cline pitched," Ritchie County coach Jason Satterfield said. "He's had a sore arm lately, but we rested him this weekend. We've struggled lately putting two or three hits together, but tonight everything just came together."

Scott Harkness had two doubles for Ritchie County. Teammate Ryan Jones doubled, scored two runs and had an RBI. Cline also doubled.

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